In the spirit of the end of days, at least as far as 2013 is concerned, I’m offering up an undeniably subjective take on some of my year’s highlights.
Most fulfilling read: Iain Sinclair’s Downriver: it took me nearly 9-months to finish all 12-stories, and while I’m still not entirely clear what the hell these are about (London, development, progress and its palimpsest-relation to history), it was by far the most satisfying read of the year for me.
Best new televised find: the sketch comedy skits of Key & Peele. Because I don’t own a TV, I’m often a lot like Christian music: a couple years behind the curve. But it’s better late than never with these guys. While they’ve gained a lot of notoriety for their Obama Anger Translator and their College Football skits, I think of these as the Top-40 hits that fund the more interesting, far darker and weirder pieces. These are two very intelligent, perceptive, and provocative comics who are doing some really amazing work.
Best concert: Ty Seagall, Neumos, Seattle, September. Despite the acoustic turn his music took over the past year, this show was still a tidal wash of fuzzing feedback. The band sounded great, and though I’m far too old (and too uninsured) to join them, the kids in the audience went bonkers: hurtling themselves from the stage, hucking beer cans, and generally unleashing the furious spark of youthful energy that still fires the engines of rock-&-roll.
Albums: I won’t pretend to have a list of hip new contemporary releases as my ears have been tied back toward older sounds this past year. That said, these are the 2013 albums that I most noticed and enjoyed: Ty Seagall, Sleeper; Kurt Vile, Walking on a Pretty Daze; The Arcade Fire, Reflextor; Okkervil River, The Silver Gymnasium; Califone, Stitches; The National, Trouble Will Find Me.
Best Pop Song: By far the catchiest pop song I heard all year is Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. It’s got a great hook and a really rad groove, and while some people have been up in arms about the lyrics I don’t see an issue (or, more specifically, if you’re going to throw accusations of sexism against this song then you better be prepared to take on the entirety of pop music; this isn’t a carte-blanche excuse for thoughtless or even intentional excesses, but let’s not kid ourselves: the singular and indisputable foundation of what we call pop music is fucking.) A runner’s-up nod goes to Lorde’s Royals, which itself is pretty damned catchy and lyrically spot-on, and Daft Punk’s disco throwback Get Lucky.
Worst Sports Moments: As a fan of Detroit sports, sadly there are many: The Red Wings dropping a 3-1 lead to the Blackhawks in the playoffs. The Tigers bullpen blowing it. The Lions imploding. You notice a theme…
Best Fortune Cookie Fortune: I eat a lot of Asian food, and as such get a lot of fortune cookies. The year’s best I keep in my wallet. It reads: “You are the master of every situation.” So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.
Public Figures Most Deserving of Opprobrium: It’s a toss-up between the entire US Congress and Kanye West. The only thing working in Kanye’s favor is that he occasionally makes something good, and he’s not completely failing to establish useful public legislation.
Most Proud Moments: I somehow managed to publish two stories this past fall, Project Inversion and The Me-Of-Now. I enjoyed writing both of them and even after the fact enjoy reading them, and at this point that’s enough. I’m wading hip-deep through a couple other projects and hope to have more work published and available in 2014.